Sophie Cruz, the 5-year-old girl who handed a handwritten letter to Pope Francis during his parade in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23 has been linked to an immigrant rights group in Los Angeles seeking to draw attention to the plight of illegal immigrants living in the United States.
Sophie's father, Raul Cruz, brought her along to Washington to call for immigration reform.
Sophie was born in the United States and calls herself an American. But her parents moved from Mexico to California without documentation, and she fears they could one day be separated, the Guardian reported.
“I want to tell you that my heart is sad,” Sophie told the Guardian, quoting her letter the Pope received.
“I would like to ask you to speak with the president and the Congress in legalizing my parents because every day I am scared that one day they will take them away from me,” she added.
Sophie also gave the Pope a yellow shirt with a slogan urging him to save a program that would block the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
“All immigrants just like my dad help feed this country,” Sophie said, still reciting her letter. "They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect. They deserve an immigration reform."
The trip to Washington for the 5-year-old and her father was organized by the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition.
“We planned to do this from the moment we learned he [Pope Francis] was coming to the States,” said Juan Jose Gutierrez, according to the Associated Press. “We have been working for a while now trying to sensitize the American public that dealing with immigration is not just dealing with the people who came in without proper documents but that we also have … countless children whose parents are undocumented.”
He added that the coalition chose Sophie to hand over the message because she “impressed us all so much that we felt she would be our best spokesman.”
“She didn’t have anyone coaching her,” Gutierrez added. “She just spoke from her heart. It all came from her.”
Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, an advocacy group involved with the coalition, hopes Sophie’s efforts will help.
“The pope’s an immigrant, so he understands our plight,” said Martha Jauregui, the Guardian reported. “He’s in the particular position to touch people’s hearts.”